The Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area has experienced one of the worst drug epidemics that fails to be defined with words – and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. You cannot go through an entire day in the area without hearing something about it on the local news. Whether it is arrests, overdoses or press conferences there is always something in the headlines about this epidemic that has divided and slowly broken a city that has had its known share of drug problems throughout my lifetime. It goes back to the days of legendary boxer Aaron Pryor and his own battles of cocaine addiction during his rise to stardom in the sport in the late 70s through the mid-80s.
Growing up in the middle of all of this presented a challenge within itself. Whether it would be through the news, educational classes, word of mouth, publications and even today’s internet/social media arenas, it’s impossible to go through just one day without hearing about drugs, what they do and how they have impacted this city. Having never seen this in person for many years, I relied heavily on those around me as a way to understand what addicts really did and I would use this information as tools to avoid people and the lifestyle that came with addiction. For the longest time I did all I could to avoid it all and not get caught up in this, knowing how these powerful drugs can take over the human body.
Then came March 2011, when I was introduced to a well-known heroin/cocaine trafficker in the Carthage/Reading/Westside Cincinnati areas. Having now been around him for some time, I have seen with my own two eyes, including those things I had heard throughout my years growing up, and it has all unfolded for me. This epidemic has taken on a life of its own. Never did I ever dream of the day actually happening where I would see all of this in person. Since all of this began, I started witnessing more. And still turning to the local news here in Cincinnati, the broadcasting of continuous overdoses is escalating at an unbelievable rate.
As all of this was continuing, it had gotten to the point where everywhere I went, as well as just being on most streets of the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area, I knew it wasn’t getting any better. Over time I started experiencing first-hand those conversations about people having drug parties and even seeing drugs being used, it got to a point where I slowly had to find a way to avoid it all and relocate to another area due to those concerns I still had about my own personal safety.
I had to look out for me first, understanding the environments I kept finding myself in. I wasn’t going to allow those to persuade me by allowing myself to get involved in a lifestyle that had nothing but negative outcomes coming from it. That change came for me on November 9, 2014, when I relocated back home to a small town called New Richmond, Ohio, where I finally found myself away from everything that this lifestyle is all about.
As I continue on in my own path in life, I am utilizing all I have learned as a way to stand strong in a city where this epidemic has virtually destroyed it, as well as a high number of people who are involved in it. People have attempted for months at finding a resolve and have tried to come up with solutions as a way to combat this, but the present results have been far from what they were ever expected to be and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
The overdose rate is higher than ever and with an HIV outbreak now taking place, that some feel is a result of this, more than ever I have to look out for myself and to remain aware of my surroundings. I have managed to survive through to this point. Now, after everything I have been able to see and witness, it’s a must to keep my eyes open for everything that is taking place and to make sure I stay on the right track, just as I have been.